Writing Retreat 2020: The Numbers

Cloudy prairie sky

My goals for this past week’s writ­ing retreat were:

  • Fin­ish the last scene in “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse”, first draft
  • 1,5002,000 words a day in either Trans­la­tions or “Dried Flow­ers”
  • Pho­tos of the Milky Way (pos­si­bly a video) and Comet NEOWISE
  • Pho­tos of the coun­try­side
  • Dai­ly bike ride
  • Some kayak­ing

Let’s see how I did.

  • I fin­ished “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse” on my first evening
  • I wrote 13,000 words between Trans­la­tions, aka Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, and “Dried Flow­ers”
  • I got all kinds of pho­tos of the Milky Way and the comet—even on the nights where clouds were fore­cast, there was usu­al­ly at least some time where the stars were vis­i­ble
  • I also took all kinds of pho­tos in the day­time
  • I rode my bike every day, for a total of over 60 km (which sur­prised me)
  • And I went out in the kayak three times, cov­er­ing about 10 km in the lake

So, on bal­ance, that was a good week.

Con­tin­ue read­ing “Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers”

Series: Bike Ride Photos

The entire series: Down by the riv­er; Bike ride birds; The ex-gar­den and the weir; Snap­shots of a ride; Across Town; Black­bird; North Hill cam­pus; Lilacs and coun­try roads; A pop of colour; Back lane flow­ers; More Breniz­ers; The riv­er is high; A bird and a reflec­tion; Rideau Park; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 9

Ah, Sun­day.

  • Wrote 650 words in “Dried Flow­ers”
  • Biked anoth­er 8.75 km
  • Cleaned the cab­in
  • Packed up
  • Head­ed home

It’s been a great week, and if I could I’d do it all again next week. But it’s nice to see my wife again. Also appar­ent­ly I need to do the day job if I want them to keep pay­ing me.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 8

Panoramic view of Lake Minnedosa from a kayak

Sat­ur­day:

  • Wrote about 650 words in Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, most­ly in an out­line
  • Read more of The Knight—only two chap­ters left now
  • Found out on Face­book that my sis­ter-in-law has renamed her pear jam “Patrick Pear jam”—I can only assume this is because I’m an inces­sant evan­ge­list for the stuff (seri­ous­ly, try it on pork chops)
  • Tried to decide if that’s bet­ter than Pat Pota­to, or if it’s a lat­er­al move
  • Biked into town, osten­si­bly to get sun­glass­es (since I dropped mine in the lake last night while I was kayak­ing) and end­ed up tool­ing around for almost 10 km (I did get sun­glass­es, though it took a while to find a pair that weren’t a) wom­en’s or b) camo)
  • Wrote anoth­er 1,300 words in Daniel, Daniel, Daniel; I seem to have some­thing to aim at again
  • Kayaked for about 45 min­utes, this time with a cam­era (see the panora­ma at the top)

Here’s a quick snip­pet of some of the writ­ing recent­ly:

Feb­ru­ary 30
Church bake sale (Make pie!)

Even though it was writ­ten in red ink, excla­ma­tion-point­ed, cir­cled thrice, and marked with an orange high­lighter, she for­got and had to take store-bought cook­ies that she unpacked onto paper plates and cov­ered in plas­tic wrap while she sat in the park­ing lot, fur­thest from the door, hop­ing no one would look in her car’s win­dows and catch her at it.

Mach 4
Stephen (Birth­day)

She gave him a card drip­ping with sap­py sen­ti­ment, because she was, after all, his moth­er. Also a mug she’d found online with a bird on it, cussing about meet­ings, that she thought matched his sar­don­ic, off­beat humour.

Avril 18
George + Judith (Anniver­sary)

Judith got a card, too. She was still fam­i­ly, even if she and June had­n’t spo­ken since the funer­al. June knew she had stuff to work through – they both did – and also that every­one grieves in their own way.

From the first draft of “Dried Flow­ers”

This is my last full day here at the cab­in. I’ll be clean­ing up and pack­ing tomor­row, and head­ing home.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 7

Fri­day:

  • I lay awake from about 4 am till about 5:30 am thanks to a cou­ple of thun­der­storms pass­ing through.
  • In the morn­ing, I biked about 6 km before it got over­ly hot.
  • While I was out on my bike, I took pho­tos for a cou­ple of panora­mas (one of which turned out as I’d hoped).
Minnedosa cairn with a plough on top
The plough cairn (panora­ma; 18 pho­tos, 50mm, f/2.8 each)
  • I wrote 500 words in Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, did some pre­lim­i­nary edit­ing of “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse” (though it might still be too ear­ly for me to work on this), and wrote 300 word in “Dried Flow­ers”.
  • I read a few more chap­ters in The Wiz­ard—as I approach the end, I’m torn between savour­ing it and find­ing out what hap­pens next.
  • I tried to come up with a coher­ent end­ing for Daniel, Daniel, Daniel, because while I know the final scene, I don’t have the sto­ry’s end­ing ful­ly fleshed out yet. It’s a bit frus­trat­ing, frankly; I’m the kind of writer that needs a sol­id end­ing before I start a project. I thought I had it, but the char­ac­ters are going their own ways.
  • I noticed the sky had got quite colour­ful about 9:15 pm, and stepped out­side in time to snap a pho­to of a love­ly sun­set. I only got bit­ten by 22 mos­qui­toes in the 5 min­utes I was out­side, too, so that’s a vic­to­ry.
Sunset with clouds: blue, orange, pink, and indigo
Sun­set on a Fri­day evening
  • About 11:45 I went and got some pho­tos of Comet NEOWISE and the north­ern lights. (And anoth­er cou­ple dozen bug bites.)
Comet NEOWISE and aurora
Comet NEOWISE and auro­ra
  • And I man­aged to catch the Inter­na­tion­al Space Sta­tion as it went over­head, even though it tried to hide behind a cloud.
The International Space Station ducks behind a cloud
I waved to the ISS astro­nauts as they went by

All in all, a good Fri­day, even if it was a bit too hot to even think straight. (No sweet­er sin than air con­di­tion­ing, I tell you.)

Series: Bike Ride Photos

The entire series: Down by the riv­er; Bike ride birds; The ex-gar­den and the weir; Snap­shots of a ride; Across Town; Black­bird; North Hill cam­pus; Lilacs and coun­try roads; A pop of colour; Back lane flow­ers; More Breniz­ers; The riv­er is high; A bird and a reflec­tion; Rideau Park; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 6

Star Trails

Thurs­day:

  • Big break­fast, in which I dis­cov­ered that Trap­per Bites, eggs, and pota­toes are an amaz­ing com­bo
  • 1,000 words in “Dried Flow­ers”
  • 6 km bike ride
  • A bunch of macro pho­tos in the camp­ground
  • Also met with the own­er of a “49-ish” Mer­cury truck (it’s a ’49, but it has A/C and an auto­mat­ic trans­mis­sion)
  • 1,000 words in Trans­la­tions (or more like­ly Daniel, Daniel, Daniel)
  • And before bed, I set up my cam­era in the cab­in’s cov­ered porch, and took pho­tos till the bat­tery died about an hour lat­er; the clouds rolled in, but before they did I got the star trails at the top of this post.
A cloudy skyA cloudy sky

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, day 5

Wednes­day:

  • Processed pho­tos
  • Wrote 1,000 words in the morn­ing, 1,000 in the evening
  • Biked about 6½ km
  • Kayaked for a bit more than ½ hour
  • Read a few more chap­ters in The Knight
  • Went to the cof­fee shop for some (rel­a­tive­ly) high-speed inter­net
  • Rejoiced that the fore­cast calls for clear skies tonight — fin­gers crossed for more comet action!
  • Mut­tered to myself when the sky was, in fact, cloudy at 10pm, 11pm, and mid­night
  • Checked one last time in my pyja­mas at 1am, and saw stars
  • …and so I found a cou­ple dark spots, snapped some more pho­tos, and fell into bed at 3am

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat, Day 4

Canola field panorama

Tues­day’s action:

  • Processed last night’s astropho­tog­ra­phy (it was past 2 AM when I got back to the cab­in)
  • Biked up 16A again, fur­ther this time (a bit over 10km round trip), and got a cou­ple panora­mas of the fields and skies (the image at the top is a wide panora­ma of a canola field)
  • Wrote 1,000 words in the morn­ing
  • Went to town for some gro­ceries and a (short) cof­fee / WiFi break
  • Read a few more chap­ters in The Knight
  • Wrote anoth­er 1,000 words before sup­per
  • Took some comet and Milky Way pho­tos, since it was clear again despite the fore­cast

I wish I’d noticed that there was some flick­er­ing north­ern lights just as I was pack­ing up for the night; I’d have stayed longer, even though I was tired.

It’s sup­posed to be clear again tonight, and hope­ful­ly the solar wind will strike twice.

As always: if you’re inter­est­ed in prints of any of these pho­tos, let me know. We’ll see what we can work out.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 3

Mon­day, I:

  • wrote 1,100 words in the morn­ing (even­tu­al­ly)
  • went for a 11 km bike ride (top speed, com­ing down a hill: 48.5 km/h)

This rein­forces my pre­vi­ous expe­ri­ence with the Lens­ba­by lens: it’s great for macro shots, like the one with the sin­gle stalk of flow­ers against the grass, but in most oth­er uses it reduces most if not all of the frame to an impres­sion­is­tic blur. If that’s your aes­thet­ic, great, but more often than not I’m dis­ap­point­ed in the pho­tos I take with it.

It’s still fun to play with, though.

  • wrote 1,000 more words before sup­per (a lot of con­ver­sa­tion; sto­ries being told)
  • evad­ed clouds and fog (oh my so much fog — I had to change loca­tions 3 times because fog rolled in) to cap­ture shots of Comet NEOWISE and the Milky Way

The bluer pho­to of the comet, the close-up, was tak­en with my 50mm f/1.8 lens. Look close­ly, and you’ll find I caught both tails. You might have to view the pho­to at full size.

As always: if you’re inter­est­ed in prints of any of these pho­tos, let me know. We’ll see what we can work out.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.

Writing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2

Saturday

  • Fin­ished the final out­stand­ing scene in “The Slow Apoc­a­lypse”, so that can sit for a cou­ple weeks’ aging before I start edit­ing
  • Read a few chap­ters in The Wiz­ard
  • Tried to get some pho­tos of the comet, but the clouds were in the wrong spot
  • Got pho­tos of light­ning, the ISS, and Jupiter and its Galilean moons
  • Dis­cov­ered the cof­fee shop isn’t open on Sun­day or Mon­day

Sunday

  • Wrote two sprints in Trans­la­tions, 2,000 words total
  • Rode my bike up 16A, which is closed to vehic­u­lar traf­fic due to a washout, and snapped some pho­tos
  • Went for a scout­ing dri­ve to Polo­nia, which I don’t think will be a venue for any astropho­tog­ra­phy (but is pret­ty pret­ty all the same)
  • Dis­cov­ered that, just because the cof­fee shop is closed, does­n’t mean I can’t park next to it and use its wifi to post this
  • How­ev­er, not hav­ing the café’s wifi pass­word is a bit of an imped­i­ment, so right now I’m using my phone’s data

And now I’m just hop­ing it won’t be quite so cloudy tonight. I’d like to get some more pho­tos of the comet.

Series: Writing Retreat 2020

The entire series: Writ­ing Retreat 2020; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 1 & 2; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 3; Writ­ing Retreat, Day 4; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, day 5; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 6; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 7; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 8; Writ­ing Retreat 2020, Day 9; Writ­ing Retreat 2020: The Num­bers.